Re: [xmca] a return to Kevin's paper

From: bb (
Date: Thu Jul 20 2006 - 19:42:25 PDT

Yup, IMHO historical analysis is essential to illuminate 'downward causation' and its many forms of embedded asymmetries. I've drawn upon my trivial own, but there are copious others far more compelling, e.g. the stories of Phillis Wheatley and Hellen Keller appearing in the latest AERJ are well worth reading.

 -------------- Original message ----------------------
From: "Mike Cole" <>
> I like your highlighting of "acting into a context" bb. I am still fumbling
> around with the ideas in Kevin's paper, the use of context being one of
> them.
> If we consider context to be a relational term that is never static, always
> in-production, we are always helping to create the contexts we are "acting
> in
> to." In a parallel way, we are always creating the subject positionings
> that position us. When I get to that thought I start to worry about the
> issue of
> symmetry. Sure, we make history, BUT not under conditions of our own
> choosing. And, from the perspective of an individual as part of a social
> group (in assymetrical relations such as your describe from your history) it
> sure does not feel symmetrical.
> As you say, lots of thoughts generated by Kevin's article.
> mike
> On 7/20/06, bb <> wrote:
> >
> > I've finally had a chance to read Kevin's paper and fully appreciate his
> > bringing together cultural production and language. It's a big challenge to
> > bridge theoretical frameworks and I think it takes a great deal of care to
> > weave them together. It's clear that I need to read more of Silverstein to
> > understand that approach to contextualization and language. Kevin's
> > observations and analysis are densely written. I agree that cognitive
> > apprenticeships, which place emphasis on the 'official view', fail to
> > capture the abundance of what happens in complex situations. But then I
> > also think that Kevin shows that 'community of practice' is too much of a
> > gloss with the micro-truck project, which itself involves several
> > institutions as sites of identity construction and a larger scale of
> > organization which is the micro-truck project itself. Kevin's analysis
> > pulls me toward wanting to parse these organizational structures more fully
> > and integrate them more completely into the ana!
> > lysis o
> > f language and identity.
> >
> > When I was a grad student at UMass I took a course at an institute in
> > Cambridge ma, and felt the differences in identity-related-to-institution
> > constantly, and although in the end I did as well as any of the others,
> > there was still something in the air that I, being from UMass, the state
> > school, was just not at the same level. This was especially apparent to me,
> > having temporarily made the ecological transition to the institute, and I
> > only wish now that I had transcripts of what was said to bring to bear an
> > analysis like Kevin's and find out whether there was any basis to my
> > impressions. Quelle dommage. Nevertheless, I would prefer to use
> > Engestrom's multiple activity systems model rather than put it into relation
> > to a CoP framework. Third gen chat would facilitate the differentiation of
> > institutions, and bring to bear the mediational nature of technology, as
> > well as traditional institutional roles (div of labor).
> >
> > Kevin writes "A central point here is that when we do not privilege
> > official under-standings of context, it becomes possible to examine how
> > participants not only act into an official context, but also orient to it
> > from the perspective of other, unofficial and sometimes competing
> > contexts." which raises the issue of how participants privilege some
> > 'perspectives' over others, but in indexing the language of privilege to
> > context, it seems that context must be much better defined than in the CoP
> > approach to cultural production. Putting "an inclusive focus on all
> > participants equally, as each contributes to the making of differences of
> > power, salience, influence, and value of themselves and other" might not
> > produce the most comprehensive analysis as each participant does not
> > contribute equally in making the differences of power -- once a power
> > differential is established, such as what foreshadows the interactions
> > between one enrolled in a prestigious institute and one who is!
> > not, t
> > here are serious inequalities that persist with the cultural production of
> > (1) institutions over long time scales and (2) people over ontogenetic
> > timescales. I've felt this personally, as I presume we all have through
> > institutions of higher education.
> >
> > I really enjoyed this paper and the thoughts it has stimulated about these
> > issues.
> >
> > bb
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> >
> >
> >
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